This is an organic California gourd, approximately 7" in diameter, carved in the "relief carving" style, which involves the partial removal of some of the surface. The exterior has been finished with tung oil, the inside is food safe and has been covered with multiple layers of safflower oil.
About the gourds:
The oldest gourd shards associated with human use and human settlements date to 6000BC. Botanists have determined that the gourd plant originated in Africa and found its way to the Western Hemisphere by drifting with the oceanic currents.
Scholars believe that gourds were used as manís first containers, and that basketry and pottery were born from gourd use in a sort of evolution. Early peoples, they say, eventually made simple basketry handles for their gourds for easier carrying, then came woven embellishments, and eventually some innovative artisan thought to form a basket with no gourd at all. Samples of the oldest known pottery imitate the shape of the bottle gourd, suggesting that the gourd was familiar to and used by early cultures in Africa, North America, and Asia. Itís only a suggestion, but a believable one.
Gourds have a myriad of uses. They carry water; store honey or salt, feed babies and ladle stews. Evidently many babies were bathed and rocked to sleep in large gourds. Many musical instruments are made from gourds including drums, rattles, horns and flutes. According to the legends of many civilizations, the gourd is the vehicle by which man can communicate with the spirits.
About the knotwork:
Celtic knots, or Celtic knotwork interlace, are ornamental patterns that first became associated with Celtic people around 700BC, where they were used by the Celtic monks to decorate manuscripts and monuments. They were used not only as decoration, but also as a meditation for the monks.
According to anthropological findings, there is no meaning that can be attributed to any specific knot. However, the interlaced patterns with unbroken lines, in general, symbolize our quest to return to our divine source and our spiritual growth as we move along our journey. The pattern is to be mentally unraveled, which, while occupying the mind with a repetitive task, creates a deeper concentration and connection to the energy of the universe. In this way it is akin to the use of a mantra, or rosary beads.
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